Lucky

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

A woman remembers a friend

Lucky

He had a cool name, Lucky Jones, and he was cool. He had a lean cocky face and a sleepy smile. At the lunch counter, when he lit a cigarette, the match would ignite that grin in his eyes. Not that he looked at me in that way, I wasn’t his type. But in our town where the pulp mill smelled like boiling cabbage and everyone talked about pigs and peanuts, I knew he was too cool to stay.

Our last year in high school, I got to class early and sat in the front. He came late and sat in the back. I tried to think of something funny to say when he passed. He always said, “Good morning, Miss Peaches and Roses.” He never forgot. 

The first time he called me that was when we were fifteen and he came in our diner and saw the flowers on the counter. I’d cut some peach blossoms off my grandma’s tree and she had a rose by her steps. I washed out an empty ketchup bottle and put them in there and they looked kind of pretty. He asked me what kind of flowers they were and when he left, he said, “Goodbye, Miss Peaches and Roses.”

My folks ran the local hangout. They called it a restaurant. It was a hamburger joint. It was a lunch counter with tables along the wall. This was before there was a McDonald’s on every corner. If you wanted to go out to eat, it was our place.

Butts Breakfast and Burgers was the name of it. Butts was our last name and you can bet I heard every joke about that growing up. On top of that, my first name was Sonya, because my mom named me after Sonya Henie, the ice skater. Once in first grade the teacher asked me how I got my name, because back then it was different. Then every girl was Linda or Barbara. So, I said I was named after Sonya Henie, the ice skater, only I didn’t say it right. You can bet those boys never let me forget. My grandma couldn’t say Sonya but would say So-ne-a or Sonja. So, everybody just called me Sis, or Lard Butts, or Cisco Crisco, or Butts Montana, whatever that meant.

Mom had a sister, Aunt Fay, who sat at the back table in a bathrobe and curlers and played cards with herself. All day long she kept a cigarette and a cup of coffee going and whenever I came around the counter, Aunt Fay eyed me from behind, “You’re sure a Butts, girl.”

After school there was a group of rich kids. Willie Henderson had the big mouth. His dad was manager at the mill, so he always had money for food. There were usually one or two guys with him and maybe Barbara, with her Jantzen sweaters and long blond ponytail. Bonanza was real popular on tv then because it was one of the first shows in color. They all had color sets. Willie started calling me Bonanza Butts and I got mad. When I came from behind the counter with their food, he started to sing the Bonanza theme song, “Dun-ta-ta, Dun-ta-ta, DUN-N-TA!”

I said, “You’re a hateful rat, Willie. But no one will tell you because your dad runs the mill.”

Only I didn’t say it out loud. I slammed down his plate and his burger hopped up and down. Willie’s eyes got big and I tried to rip off his head with my glare. Then I walked through the kitchen and left Dad frying potatoes on the grill.

 After high school, people drifted. Some went to college. The rich kids went to fancy schools in the mountains. The poor boys went on scholarships if they were good at football. Some stayed on the farms and stuck with peanuts and pigs, but most went to work at the mill. They got married and had kids and looked like everyone else.

I knew Lucky would leave. Not that he had an easy way out. He didn’t have rich folks. He mostly lived with his Grandma Reedy. She was real sweet. What he did have was Stormy Joe Weatherby, our race car driver, local celebrity, almost winner of the Indianapolis 500.

 The gray tops said Lucky was just like Joe, the same slick style. The gray tops hung around the diner after breakfast, paid for one cup of coffee and had five. They sat at the tables and let the sun shine on their bones and talked about weather and crops and whatever happened fifty years ago. They knew all about Stormy Joe.

I graduated to working at the diner all the time, a real step up for me. The night Lucky left, I was filling the salt and pepper shakers for the next day. It was closing time, but I didn’t mind. Dad fried some ham and made him a sandwich. I had all the little shakers lined down the counter and he lit a cigarette, the fire catching the dark of his eyes. Then he smiled, kind of a sad smile, “I’m leaving.” He looked around like he’d miss the place. “Don’t forget me, Miss Peaches and Roses.”

I kept up with him all the years he was racing. The gray tops, they always knew where he was on the circuit. Once, when he came in second in Greensboro, there was a write-up in the paper. When Grandma Reedy died, I saw him from the back of the church. They said he had to leave right after the funeral, but he came in the diner as I was closing. He looked older, harder.

“Take care of yourself, Lucky,” I said as he left.

 “I will, Miss Peaches and Roses.”

What happened was he was driving in the Dixie-500 and three cars went into a turn and crashed. He rolled over and skidded into the other cars. His leg was broken, and he was roughed up. They said it was a miracle he wasn’t killed. After that he never raced much. He restores old cars now, has his own place in Georgia. The gray tops say he’s good at it. Stormy Joe’s a track announcer in Atlanta.

Me – I joined the army. They burned off sixty-five pounds and turned me into a secretary. That’s where I met Jake Flores. We got married and moved to Florida. Sonya Flores is my name now. It kind of sounds like Peaches and Roses.

 

 

 

 


Submitted: May 17, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Suzanne Mays. All rights reserved.

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PikerUK

I liked reading this story, it was nice (in the best possible way).

Sun, May 17th, 2020 2:06pm

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